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Europe Polled On Why 9/11 Happened

According to a new poll, a majority of people surveyed in six European countries believe American foreign policy is partly to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Researchers interviewed people in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland for the survey, which was done for the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The French were most critical of U.S. foreign policy, with 63 percent saying U.S. foreign policy was partly to blame for the attacks. The Italians were the least critical - 51 percent of them blamed U.S. policy for Sept. 11.

Among the other four countries, 57 percent of Britons, 52 percent of Germans, 59 percent of Dutch and 54 percent of Poles saw such a connection.

Marshall Bouton, president of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, said Tuesday the poll found that many Europeans also disagreed with how the United States has handled conflicts in the Middle East.

Bouton said when he was in France that some residents told him they perceive American policy as anti-Muslim.

They believe "it has provided the sea in which the terrorist can swim, so to speak," he said.

Europeans are more critical of the Bush administration's handling of foreign policy than Americans. Fifty-six percent of Europeans say it is "poor," and 38 percent say it is "excellent" or "good."

Americans gave the Bush administration's foreign policy higher marks, with 40 percent rating it as "good."

Despite their differences, Americans and Europeans share many of the same views, said Steve Grand, an official with the German Marshall Fund.

Grand said the Sept. 11 events have strengthened the bond between the United States and its European allies.

"It's brought Americans to be more internationalist, recognizing that America has more of an important role in the world," he said. "At the same time it's made Europeans more sensitive to the threats, and you see a real readiness on the part of Europeans to address those new threats."

Researchers interviewed 6,001 Europeans and 3,262 Americans for the survey, which was conducted in June by Market & Opinion Research International and Harris Interactive. It had a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations promotes public awareness of international issues, and the German Marshall Fund is an organization which tries to improve foreign relations.